Alleged Mastermind Behind Sri Lankan Easter Bombings Killed Himself in Attack: President

By Zachary Stieber

The alleged ringleader behind the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka died during one of the bombings, at a luxury hotel in Colombo.

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena confirmed the death of Mouvli Zahran Hashim, on April 26. Hashim was also known as Mohammed Zahren.

The bombings took place at churches and hotels in and around the country’s capital on April 21. At least 250 people died, with hundreds of others injured.

“What intelligence agencies have told me is that Zahran was killed during the Shangri-La attack,” Sirisena told reporters, according to AFP. The Shangri-La Hotel is in Colombo.

Sri Lankan security personnel at the cordoned off entrance to the luxury Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo on April 21, 2019. (Ishara S. Kodikara/AFP/Getty Images)
Sri Lankan police stand at the site of an explosion in a restaurant area of the luxury Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo on April 21, 2019. (Ishara S. Kodikara/AFP/Getty Images)

He said that Hashim was accompanied by a second bomber, Ilham Ibrahim, in the attack against the hotel.

He said the death of Hashim was confirmed in part by surveillance footage from the scene.

Before the death was confirmed, intelligence agencies were hunting for Hashim, the leader of the Islamic terror group National Thowfeek Jamaath (NTJ).

Authorities said that NTJ was behind the bombings, with help from an international network.

An undated image posted by the ISIS “news agency” Amaq on April 23, 2019. It shows eight men, all with faces obscured except for Mouvli Zahran Hasim in the middle. (Amaq News Agency)
An undated image posted by the ISIS “news agency” Amaq on April 23, 2019, showing eight men pledging allegiance to ISIS. (Amaq News Agency)

A video released by the ISIS propaganda agency Amaq showed a man appearing to be Hashim with seven masked persons pledging allegiance to the Middle East-based terror group that seeks to impose Shariah on territories they conquer by force.

“We pledge allegiance … and to obey him on everything either in easy or difficult conditions,” the group said, before praising Allah, the word Muslims use for God.

Hashim has for years posted videos on YouTube outlining his extremist views, including calling for all non-Muslims to be eliminated and praising ISIS. He routinely threatened Christians, Buddhists, and Hindus.

Sri Lankan Special Task Force 2
Sri Lankan Special Task Force soldiers in front of a mosque in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on April 26, 2019. (Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters)
Mass funeral Sri Lanka
Workers bury coffins during a mass funeral for Easter Sunday bomb blast victims in Negombo, Sri Lanka, on April 24, 2019. (Gemunu Amarasinghe/Photo via AP)

In one of the clips posted to Facebook, Hashim threatens to attack civilians with explosive-laden vehicles, reported Reuters.

“Before the strength of a mujahideen (holy warrior), your army, police, and intelligence are all doomed to fail,” Zahran said in the clip.

The brother of Ibrahim, who accompanied Zahran to the hotel, was also involved in the bombings and was identified as Inshaf Ibrahim.